Posts Tagged ‘Love’

But God

Posted: July 15, 2016 in Faith
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IMG_4220The other night my roommate and I were watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother. In the episode, the group of friends discuss each other’s biggest flaw, their “but.” For example, she’s really funny, but she talks too much. He’s extremely intelligent, but he’s always correcting people.

This got my roommate and I talking about what we thought our own fatal flaw was. Initially the conversation was purely silly, but I soon found myself seriously contemplating what other people found annoying about me. But as my mind began to overanalyze every possible one of my flaws, I had to force myself to stop and seriously consider the harm I was doing:

  1. I was caring way too much about what people’s opinion of me was,
  2. I was being way too hard on myself and not giving myself any grace,
  3. And most importantly, I was not caring about what God thought of me, especially as His creation.

In Ephesians 2:1-9, Paul wrote:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Paul writes that even at our darkest points of sin and doubt, God always chooses to give us grace. He reminds us, however, that while the giving of grace is an ongoing process of sinning and sanctification, our salvation is not a process.

On the contrary, our salvation is complete the moment we commit ourselves to Christ and become believers. That’s it. No good work can make us better in the eyes of God, and no sin can make us worse. Once we are saved by God’s grace through our faith, we are saved. We are new creations, and our sin no longer defines us. Our identity is in Christ alone. It is finished.

Therefore when we find ourselves wallowing in the guilt of our sins past and present, we in turn doubt God’s grace and our salvation. While sanctification through the Holy Spirit allows us to recognize and repent of our sin, we must be careful that Satan does not use our sanctification against us. We cannot allow the enemy to distort our understanding of grace. Where instead of seeing acknowledgement of sin as a gift from the Holy Spirit to repent, we become so caught up in our guilt that we begin to believe that our sins are too big for God to forgive.

We must caution ourselves from falling into the trap of creating a “but” argument for God against us. Instead we must remember the “but” argument that God created for us. Paul writes, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”

Jesus didn’t sacrifice himself to make us feel guilty and chain us to our sin. He died on the Cross so that we may live a new holy life free from sin and death. While that doesn’t mean that we can sin without remorse, it does mean that acknowledgement of our sin should lead to repentance, not guilt. For unlike guilt, which is grief over what we have committed against the world, repentance is grief over what we have committed against God. Guilt creates in us a weak spirit, but repentance creates in us a righteous, sanctified heart.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation as I was, where you can’t seem to let go of your past sins and you’re finding every reason to doubt yourself, remember there’s grace for that.

God has already forgiven us. All we have to do is accept His gift and allow ourselves to be forgiven. For our inclination to sin may be strong, but God is stronger.

VegetariansI have a sister-in-law who is a vegetarian and I came across this verse in Romans 14 that had me worried about her. It said:

“One persons faith allows them to eat anything, but another, WHOSE FAITH IS WEAK, eats only vegetables.”

I knew there was something wrong about being a vegetarian! Just a bunch of weak faithed people that turn down Zaxby’s chicken fingers for no reason at all and then choose to eat wasabi peas or chips that look like vegetables. I don’t think I would survive without Zaxby’s chicken fingers in my life…and we don’t even need to get started on bacon. Bacon should not be left out of anything. It makes sense why their faith is weak…

Well…Paul had more to say in Romans 14. The next verse says:

“The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.”

God has accepted vegetarians…so we should too.

There are certain things in the Bible that are clearly forbidden (murder, adultery, homosexuality, theft, idolatry), but we need to be careful not to create our own rules and then make them equal with God’s word.

Let me explain…there are certain situations I do not put myself in because I would leave with a guilty conscience and I would not feel like I was obeying God. It could be an area I struggled with in my past that I want to stay clear of. That is fine…I am listening to what God is telling ME and showing ME in MY life. But I can’t take that scenario and condemn others who choose to enjoy their freedom in that area. It might not be an area of temptation in their life.

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” Romans 14:13

Just as I can’t make my friends or family live by my rules…I need to be weary of those areas of concern in their lives. If my actions are putting them in uncomfortable situations I need to be aware of that. We are all strong in some areas and weak in others…but we must be aware of how that is affecting those around us.

“If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.” Romans 14:15

The Bible does not tell us we can’t ever drink a beer, but if we are around an alcoholic or someone who struggles in that area, out of love for them we probably shouldn’t hit the bar scene. By doing that we would be turning something that we see as harmless in our eyes and using it as evil.

“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.” Romans 14:20-21

Our relationship with God is a “personal relationship” that we learn in and grow in everyday. The Bible is clear on many things we should stay clear of, but it is also very clear that we are called to love others. Part of loving others is honoring the things in their life that cause them conviction. Christ died on a cross so that we could live a life of freedom. Do not be a stumbling block in the life of those around you. Love them and bring unity to your community through the way you love them. We have to do this life together and we have to love each other in the best way possible.

As far as it goes for vegetarians…that is between them and God.

Recently, I started a new job in north Atlanta in the suburb of Kennesaw.  I just wrapped up my first week of work and everything went pretty well. The atmosphere at my new office is very team oriented which I love. The people at the office are very nice and I have enjoyed working with them and more importantly getting to know them. I have been praying for opportunities to be able to have that awkward conversation with them. The one about faith that, in today’s culture, everyone shies away from. I want to get to know them on a deeper level than the typical coworker relationship. I think It will help everyone personally in terms of their growth and it would also help our working relationship in the office.

I did have one instance when I was taken back by one of the ladies in the office. It was my first day and I was walking around to meet everyone and one of the older ladies said, “We are all Christians around here. Are you Christian?” Before giving me the opportunity to answer she asked me, “Or are you Jewish?” I was shocked that she was so straightforward in asking me about my beliefs and even more shocked she didn’t even give me a chance to answer her question before asking another one. Honestly, as a Christian, I was not happy with the way she handled our introduction. I am happy that she did it with me because even though at first I didn’t take it well I was able to brush it off. I was thinking…What if I wasn’t a Christian? What if I was on the fence with my faith? How would I have taken what she had said? For me, her comments would have turned me off. Her comments made me think that she felt that Christians were better and on a higher level then people of other religions. We aren’t called to put ourselves on a high horse and talk down to others who have different views. We are called to love on everyone no matter their religious affiliation.

If it was me I would never ask that question. One of my favorite quotes is by St. Francis, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” The way that I am approaching my new relationships in ATL is to act out my faith and hopefully people will notice.  I have faith that God will bless me with opportunities to have real conversations with my coworkers and that He will bless me with the ability to take advantage of them when they present themselves.

I have been living with my aunt, uncle, and 2 little cousins until I can find a place for myself or with a roommate. Living with them has been a huge blessing. My little cousins are pumped to have me there to hang out with them. On the first night, I walked in and the little one ran and jumped into my arms. It was awesome. The older one is a freshman in high school. He has taken me to where he works out and we have been working out together. He is really dedicated to becoming a better athlete and I am going to do my best to help him reach his potential. I love being around my cousins, but with that comes pressure. I know that everything that I do and say has an effect on them. They are taking notes on everything that I do and say. In one week, I have noticed them picking up on my sayings and different mannerisms. I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to pour into them and show them the againstiflow lifestyle.

Living life against the flow!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!